DOWNTOWN : $4.6 Million Granted Homeless Agencies

The Los Angeles City Council has approved spending $4.6 million--a 10% drop from last year--to help fund seven homeless assistance agencies and pay for 452 shelter beds, officials said.

Council members voted Wednesday to allocate the largest portion of the $4.6 million to the Weingart Center Assn., which provides temporary housing, alcohol rehabilitation programs and mental health counseling on Skid Row.

A total of $1.9 million will pay for 363 permanent shelter beds at the center, 566 S. San Pedro St., and the nearby Panama Hotel, 403 E. 5th St., according to a report from the Community Redevelopment Agency.

The council approved financial aid for the other six agencies on June 17. Funding for all seven programs will go into effect during the 1994-1995 fiscal year, which began Friday.

SRO Housing Corp., another Skid Row-based group, will receive the second-largest sum of $1.5 million for administration, operation and maintenance costs. SRO Housing runs three Skid Row area parks and provides more than 1,200 housing units for low-income families.

The following groups will receive the rest of the money:

- $618,000 for administrative costs and 22 beds at Skid Row Development Corp., a job training and temporary shelter program.

- $205,000 for operations costs at Homeless Outreach Program, which provides jobs and referral services to the homeless on Skid Row.

- $159,000 for public toilets and showers and 18 beds at Lamp, a shelter and counseling program on Skid Row.

- $100,500 for 28 beds at Henderson Community Corp., a South-Central agency serving homeless women.

- $87,000 for 21 beds at People Assisting the Homeless, a Westside agency that provides food, shelter, counseling and job and housing assistance.

City officials can't match the $5.1 million spent on homeless programs last fiscal year because the source of those funds, redevelopment money from downtown business property taxes, is about to run out, said Don Spivack, director of operations for the Community Redevelopment Agency.

A 1977 lawsuit settlement between the city and local businesses limited the total the CRA could collect in property taxes to $750 million, Spivack said.

The city is expected to reach that limit by the end of the new fiscal year.

The city could go back to court and ask to raise the $750 million limit or find other sources of income to continue supporting homeless assistance agencies and other redevelopment programs after this fiscal year, he said.

If neither option works, the seven agencies most likely will have to brace themselves for a difficult time.

"This may be the last year we have funding for these programs," Spivack said.

"We hope that this will give them a year to find other funding resources."

Mike Neely, director of Homeless Outreach Program, said the $20,000 in cutbacks his agency faces this year may mean fewer homeless can be served. About 2,000 to 3,000 homeless were expected to come through its doors this year.

"This is the first year that we've had to take decreases," Neely said. "We may have to cut back hours or cut back staff."

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